Almost a year ago, I stumbled onto Periscope bored and clueless. What I discovered was a life-changing resource with a true industry professional at the helm. Makeup Artist Melissa Street, who happens to have a thriving business and decades of experience in film and television, was posting videos chatting about all of the topics that NEVER get talked about openly by makeup artists. ~And here she was, helping newer artists, sharing her experiences and giving advice willingly. I was hooked. It was only a matter of time until we would find our way to each other on the internet, and I’m so damn excited to have her on the blog today!
With over thirty years of experience, Melissa has honed her craft for film, television, live events, corporate video, commercials and news media while also running her own business Epic Makeup, established in 2001. When not running her team of talented professional makeup artists under Epic Makeup, you can find Melissa teaching emerging artists by sharing thoughts, advice, and knowledge through social media. She has grown a loyal following of colleagues and artists over the years and is now taking it further with classes, collaborations and more videos than ever before. Today, we look back on her career and discuss the career cycle of an artist.
‘If everything else around you is chaotic and falling apart, the makeup room can be a salvation for so many people. So you should act like that and operate your business like that. It’s gotta come from the heart.’ – Melissa talking about ‘Talent vs Character’
Melissa was inspired to pursue a career in makeup through a school friend’s father. He was an artist that made masks and puppets for films. Melissa was so intrigued that she approached him for advice, and as a result, he encouraged her towards makeup.
What was your first job? How did you get your foot in the door?
‘My very first job was an unpaid apprenticeship that lasted 3 years. With my mentor, I was able to learn what they didn’t teach me in professional makeup school. This propelled me further than those who decided to skip the apprenticeship and go directly to an assisting position. My first paid job was as an assistant on a commercial in Los Angeles. I worked hard and built relationships with other artists who eventually started to refer me to jobs they weren’t able to work on.’
‘So many young artists now want to skip the steps and think they can slide right into a Department Head Makeup Artist position. To me that’s crazy. They’re just setting themselves up for hardships and failures.’
What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?
‘The most rewarding moment of my career was to win the first of seven Emmy Awards with NBC7 San Diego and Telemundo20 and then to share those awards with my team. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my team. They work just as hard as I do and they deserve to share in the accolades! We’re so grateful to be part of the NBC and Telemundo20 crew and that they see the value in the service we provide and in our artistry.’
What’s your advice for artists entering the industry?
‘The best advice I can give to artists who are just entering the industry is not to skip steps along your career path. It’s important to experience and become good at every level of makeup artistry. You should start out as an unpaid apprentice or assistant. This is really an extended education and will teach you all the things they don’t teach in makeup school (set etiquette, crew member job responsibilities, building a proper makeup kit, proper lighting for the makeup room, the effects of cameras and lenses, etc).
Then you will move on to a paid assistant position where you learn how to be in service of others. You’ll work directly with the Key Artist and that’s where you’ll expand your technique and grow your skills. They will teach you, one-on-one, all their tips and tricks!
After that, you move up until you work directly underneath the Department Head – they will share valuable information on how to run the makeup department, how to build relationships with other department heads, how to build a makeup team and how to get referred over and over again based on your creative artistry and head for business.’
Melissa records live video every week on her Facebook and Instagram on a myriad of topics relating to the business of being a makeup artist. Her advice on freelancing, business, kit organisation, and goal setting is worth its weight in gold so get your butts over there and follow her immediately! Melissa Street will be back on the blog soon to talk more about kit organisation (my favourite topic!).